Luke 4:16-21 (ESV):

16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

18    “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
          because he has anointed me
          to proclaim good news to the poor.
        He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
          and recovering of sight to the blind,
          to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19    to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Who anointed Jesus and with what?

  1. Was Jesus anointed by the Lord with the Spirit of the Lord? Or,
  2. Was Jesus anointed by the Spirit of the Lord with something else?
  3. What does it mean to be anointed in this context to begin with?

5 Answers 5


The verb in Luke 4:18 translated "anointed" is χρίω (chrió), from which we get the official title of Jesus, "Christ" = anointed one, or, Messiah in Hebrew. The five uses of this verb in the NT answers the question:

  • Luke 4:18 - “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed

Before proceeding further, Luke quotes the LXX which is a translation of the Hebrew Masoretic text. The MT makes the sense a little clearer:

  • Isa 61:1 - The Spirit of the Lord GOD is on Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor ...

Note that BDAG says that this verb χρίω (chrió) is:

only ever used in the figurative sense of anointing by God setting a person apart for special service under divine direction

We see this repeatedly in the other places in the NT:

  • Acts 4:27, 28 - The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against His Anointed One.’ In fact, this is the very city where Herod and Pontius Pilate conspired with the Gentiles and the people of Israel against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You [God] anointed
  • Acts 10:38 - God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
  • 2 Cor 1:21, 22 - Now it is God who establishes both us and you in Christ. He anointed us, placed His seal on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a pledge of what is to come.
  • Heb 1:9 - You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.

Thus, we see that it is God who sets Jesus apart for the special service of Messiah by anointing Him with the Holy Spirit symbolized by the metaphor of oil. See also 1 John 2:20.


1 Samuel 16:13

So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David.

The anointing oil symbolizes or represents the Spirit of the LORD.

Jesus was not anointed with physical oil but literally with the Spirit of God in Matthew 3:16

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.

This was an act of true anointing as described in Luke 4:18

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me

Oil anointing was just a type/shadow of this true anointing.


Regarding God's "Anointed One" מְשִׁיחוֹ֘ in Isaiah's prophecy, we read about two Messiah(s) : Cyrus & Israel.

While Cyrus | כ֣וֹרֶשׁ "Koresh" is called by God - "His Anointed One" in [Isaiah 45:1], the prophecy of [Isaiah 61:1] is about an Anointed Israel who acts as God's Servant to the nations.

  • Isaiah 45:1 - "So said the Lord to His anointed one, to Cyrus, whose right hand I held, to flatten nations before him, and the loins of kings I will loosen, to open portals before him, and gates shall not be closed." ( כֹּֽה־אָמַ֣ר יְהֹוָה֘ לִמְשִׁיחוֹ֘ לְכ֣וֹרֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר־הֶֽחֱזַ֣קְתִּי בִֽימִינ֗וֹ לְרַד־לְפָנָיו֙ גּוֹיִ֔ם וּמָתְנֵ֥י מְלָכִ֖ים אֲפַתֵּ֑חַ לִפְתֹּ֚חַ לְפָנָיו֙ דְּלָתַ֔יִם וּשְׁעָרִ֖ים לֹ֥א יִסָּגֵֽרוּ )

  • Isaiah 59:20 - "And [a] Redeemer shall-come to-Zion, and to those who repent of transgression in-Jacob, says HaShem." ( וּבָ֚א לְצִיּוֹן֙ גּוֹאֵ֔ל וּלְשָׁבֵ֥י פֶ֖שַׁע בְּיַֽעֲקֹ֑ב נְאֻ֖ם יְהֹוָֽה)

  • Who is The Redeemer of Yisrael? - Read [Isaiah 60:16] "I am YHVH, your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob." ( אֲנִ֚י יְהֹוָה֙ מֽוֹשִׁיעֵ֔ךְ וְגֹֽאֲלֵ֖ךְ אֲבִ֥יר יַֽעֲקֹֽב )

  • Again Yeshayahu reminds us that Yisrael's Redeemer is HaShem in [Isaiah 47:4] "Our Redeemer, YHVH of Hosts is His name, the Holy One of Israel." ( גֹּֽאֲלֵ֕נוּ יְהֹוָ֥ה צְבָא֖וֹת שְׁמ֑וֹ קְד֖וֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵֽל )

  • "Transgression In-Jacob" | פֶ֖שַׁע בְּיַֽעֲקֹ֑ב Pesha Be-Yaqov refers to the sins of Yisrael.

[Whose] "Spirit" is upon the Anointed Israelites that righteously observe & share Torah as God's Servant to nations? - YHVH's Ruach ( יְהֹוָ֔ה רוּחִי֙ )

[Isaiah 59:21] - "As for Me, this is My covenant with them," says HaShem. "[My Spirit], which is upon you and My words that I have placed in your mouth, shall not move from your mouth or from the mouth of your seed and from the mouth of your seed's seed," said HaShem, "from now and to eternity." ( וַֽאֲנִ֗י זֹ֣את בְּרִיתִ֚י אוֹתָם֙ אָמַ֣ר יְהֹוָ֔ה רוּחִי֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָלֶ֔יךָ וּדְבָרַ֖י אֲשֶׁר־שַׂ֣מְתִּי בְּפִ֑יךָ לֹֽא־יָמ֡וּשׁוּ מִפִּיךָ֩ וּמִפִּ֨י זַרְעֲךָ֜ וּמִפִּ֨י זֶ֚רַע זַרְעֲךָ֙ אָמַ֣ר יְהֹוָ֔ה מֵעַתָּ֖ה וְעַד־עוֹלָֽם)

  • Isaiah 49:3 "You are My Servant, Israel, about whom I will boast." ( עַבְדִּי־אָ֑תָּה יִשְׂרָאֵ֕ל אֲשֶׁר־בְּךָ֖ אֶתְפָּאָֽר )

In conclusion to Yeshayahu's prophecy, HaShem's "anointed one" is Israel - His Spirit is on Israel to return to His Torah and reject oral law. HaShem is Israel's Redeemer. - In Luke 4:16-21, Yeshua of Nazareth began it's fulfillment by declaring His Life's mission.

As a Torah-observant Israeli & נָבִיא Navi, Yeshua of Nazareth proclaimed He was the fulfillment of יְשַׁעְיָ֣הוּ Yeshayahu's prophecy in [Isaiah 61:1] regarding God's Servant "Yisrael" being freed from Babylonian oppression.

But in context to the scroll of "Isaiah" Chapters 44-63, we learn Israel as a nation is the Servant of YHVH who must become Torah-observant by rejecting Babylonian traditions of their own oral law.


Who anointed our Lord Jesus Christ? 

Acts 10:38
38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

Who anointed our Lord Jesus Christ? Peter said, "God." What did God anoint our Lord Jesus with? Peter said, "the Holy Spirit and with power".

What is the distinction of those who are anointed by God? Who was another servant who was anointed by God? 

I Sam. 16:12-13
12So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the LORD said, "Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!" 13Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.

Who was another servant who was anointed by God? Samuel said, "David." Who was David? He was the one who would go on to be king of God's people. What has been a custom since ancient times? That those who would be made king should be anointed (I Sam. 16:1-3).

In the same way, what is a distinction of our Lord Jesus Christ? What will Christ inherit? 

Luke 1:31-33
31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end."

What will Christ inherit? Gabriel said, "the throne of His father David". Who would give Christ this throne? Gabriel said, "God." Jesus was anointed also like David, because He too was to be made king.

Christ's anointing as king is the fulfillment of the prophecy in Ps. 45:1, 6-7:

Ps. 45:1, 6-7 JPSA
1My heart overfloweth with a goodly matter; I say: 'My work is concerning a king'; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
6Thy throne given of God is for ever and ever; a sceptre of equity is the sceptre of thy kingdom. 7Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated wickedness; therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

Additional info:

Who else have been made kings?

I Pet. 2:9 BBE
9But you are a special people, a holy nation, priests and kings, a people given up completely to God, so that you may make clear the virtues of him who took you out of the dark into the light of heaven.

Who else have been made kings? Peter said, "you are a special people, a holy nation, priests and kings." Who was Peter speaking to? God's people or nation.

As such, what was also done to God's people?

II Cor. 1:21-22
21Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

What was also done to God's people? Paul said, "anointed." What was used to anoint them? Paul said, "the Spirit". God's people were also anointed by God as kings by means of the Holy Spirit.


The Hebrew text explicitly says, "because the Lord has anointed me." So it is not the Holy Spirit who anoints, but He is the anointing oil itself, in Jesus' case. I would argue that Jesus was anointed with and by the Holy Spirit Himself, sent by the Father (John 14:26), to preach the gospel by His power while on earth, and not by His own divine power as separate (cf. Luke 11:20).

The identification of the Messiah or Anointed King, the oil of anointing, and the Spirit, are concepts tied together in other Scriptures, such as:

1 Kings 16:6-13 And when they were come in, he saw Eliab, and said: Is the Lord's anointed before him? 7 And the Lord said to Samuel: Look not on his countenance, nor on the height of his stature: because I have rejected him, nor do I judge according to the look of man: for man seeth those things that appear, but the Lord beholdeth the heart. 8 And Isai called Abinadab, and brought him before Samuel. And he said: Neither hath the Lord chosen this. 9 And Isai brought Samma, and he said of him: Neither hath the Lord chosen this. 10 Isai therefore brought his seven sons before Samuel: and Samuel said to Isai: The Lord hath not chosen any one of these. 11 And Samuel said to Isai: Are here all thy sons? He answered: There remaineth yet a young one, who keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said to Isai: Send, and fetch him, for we will not sit down till he come hither. 12 He sent therefore and brought him. Now he was ruddy and beautiful to behold, and of a comely face. And the Lord said: Arise, and anoint him, for this is he. 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward: and Samuel rose up, and went to Ramatha.

It seems that in Jesus' case, He was sent out with His Messianic ministry, and officially declared King (the Anointed), by the Holy Spirit directly, without need for oil (which merely symbolized the Spirit's coming).

Matthew 3:13-17 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to the Jordan, unto John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John stayed him, saying: I ought to be baptized by thee, and comest thou to me? 15 And Jesus answering, said to him: Suffer it to be so now. For so it becometh us to fulfill all justice. Then he suffered him. 16 And Jesus being baptized, forthwith came out of the water: and lo, the heavens were opened to him: and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon him. 17 And behold a voice from heaven, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

This shows, in my opinion, that Jesus is above the need for sacrament or sign, and is favored by God by natural right. This is different from His circumcision or dedication (or redemption) at the Temple, since He was utterly dependant on the knowledge of His parents then, and the transition from Old to New Covenants was not yet complete.

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